Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Diary of 1st Lieutenant Lemuel A. Abbott: Monday, September 19, 1864 – Part 1

We received orders at 10 o'clock last night to march at 2 o'clock this morning which we did. Daylight brought us up near Opequan Creek on the Winchester-Berryville pike. Wilson's Cavalry had charged and carried the enemy's picket line and earthworks protecting the pike near both the East and West entrance of the gorge through which this road runs, taken a goodly number of prisoners, and it looked like business again. A large number of troops moved in two or more columns across the Opequan for about a mile and then up the narrow winding pike in one column through a little valley or gorge, known as the Berryville canyon to us, but as Ash Hollow locally, with second growth or scrub oak and ash trees and underbrush coming close down its scraggy abrupt banks two hundred feet high more or less in places after crossing Abraham Creek, to the road and rivulet winding along the gorge for nearly three miles— the source of which stream is wrongly given on all maps pertaining to this battle — on past General Sheridan near the west end of the canyon towards Winchester sitting on his horse a little off the road to the right in the open field on slightly ascending ground watching the column our brigade was in which, owing to its plucky fight under great disadvantages at the Battle of the Monocacy which largely saved the city of Washington barely nine weeks before, he had selected for the most important point in his line of battle at the head of the gorge on the pike to Winchester with our valiant regiment and the Fourteenth New Jersey planted across it even the colors of each which were in the centre of the regiments, being in the center of the pike and the rest of the army ordered to guide on us. Surely this was the place of honor in the battle that day for the Sixth Corps followed the pike in all the assaults of the day which was quite crooked including the first one until the enemy was driven completely routed through the city of Winchester when night put an end to the fighting,

Where Sheridan's army crossed Opequan Creek, Va., Sept. 19, 1864:
steel bridge built 1907; view of Winchester-Berryville pike looking
west towards Wood's Mill and Winchester, taken from the spring
June 29, 1908. [Click on the picture to enlarge.]

SOURCE: Lemuel Abijah Abbott, Personal Recollections and Civil War Diary, 1864, p. 150-1

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